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Spirit and Matter, Life and Death

Schmidt Number: S-3351

On-line since: 31st May, 2016

The Riddles of Soul and World in the German Cultural Life

Berlin, 17 March 1917

In the last talk, I tried to show that one has to ascribe to misunderstandings if those who investigate the soul and its processes, consort so little with those who direct their attention to the material processes in the human organism which proceed as concomitants or also, as materialism means, as necessary causes of the soul processes. I would like today to point out above all that where true knowledge is searched such misunderstandings must arise, if one does not take into consideration that in the process of knowledge which forces itself more and more on the spiritual researcher as an immediate experience with the more intimate research. It is something that seems very strange at first: on the field of spiritual-real knowledge or generally of the knowledge of the origins of existence, such a view of the human soul has to originate which can be disproved and proved as well, of course, if one gets entangled too much in certain mental pictures, in certain concepts.

Hence, the spiritual researcher will abandon more and more from having the habit, otherwise, in ideological questions to put forth this and that as affirmation of the one or the other view what would be similar as a proof or also as a disproof in the usual life. Since in this field one can prove or disprove everything with certain reasons. Materialism can be proved absolutely strictly as a whole, and it can be strictly proved if it gets involved with single questions of life. One cannot easily outcompete that which a materialist puts forth as affirmation if one simply wants to disprove his view from opposite viewpoints. The same applies to someone who represents a spiritual existence. Hence, that who really wants to do research in spiritual areas must not only know what militates for any such worldview but also what militates against a matter. Since the strange result turns out that the real truth appears if one allows that to work on the soul which militates for and against a matter. Someone who lets his mind stare on any web of concepts or mental pictures of a one-sided world view will always close his mind to the fact that also the opposite may assert itself in the soul, the opposite seems to be right even up to a certain degree. Hence, he will be in a position, as for example somebody is who states that the human life could only be sustained by inhalation. Inhalation requires exhalation; both belong together.

Our concepts and mental pictures that refer to ideological questions behave in such a way. As well as the real life can only appear if exhalation and inhalation are there, the spiritual can only appear in the soul if you can react positively to the pros and cons of a thing. The affirmative concept is within the living whole of the soul like exhaling as it were, the negative concept like inhalation; and in their living cooperation only that manifests itself which refers to the spiritual reality. Hence, it will not suit spiritual science to apply the usual methods with which this or that is proved or disproved. The spiritual scientist namely realises that that which is put forward positively can always have a certain authorisation if it refers to ideological questions, but also the opposite phenomenon. However, if one advances now in ideological questions to that immediate life which lives in positive and negative concepts, then one gets to concepts that cope with reality. Then you have often to express yourself unlike in the usual life. However, the way in which you express yourself, arises from the vividly active internal experience of the spirit. The spirit can be experienced only internally, but it cannot externally perceived in the manner of the material existence.

You know that one of the most important ideological questions is that which I have also treated in the first talks of this winter, the question of matter. I want to touch on this question briefly from the just intimated viewpoint.

One cannot manage with the question of matter if one tries to form mental pictures or concepts repeatedly what, actually, matter is, if one wants to understand what matter is. Someone who has struggled mentally with such questions that are remote to many people knows what such questions concern. Since if he has struggled for a while, without dedicating himself to any prejudice, he gets to another viewpoint compared with such a question. He gets to a viewpoint that lets the way appear more important to him how one generally behaves in the soul if one forms such a concept like the concept of matter. This struggle of the soul is raised in the consciousness. Then you get to a view just of these riddles that I could pronounce possibly in the following way.

Somebody who wants to understand the matter as one normally understands it resembles a person who says, I want now to get the impression of darkness, of a dark room. What does he do? He lights a light and looks as the right method to get the impression of the dark room. Well, it will be the most wrong that he can do. It is the most wrong too what one can do if one believes that one recognises matter one day if one sets the spirit in motion to light up the matter as it were with the spirit. Solely where the spirit can be quiet in our body, where the sense impression and the imagination stop it happens that an outer process penetrates into our inside. There we can really have the matter represented in our soul as it were.

To such concepts, you do not get with the usual logic; or if you get around to it with the usual logic, they turn out as too thin to cause real conviction. Not before you struggle in the intimated way in your soul with certain concepts, they lead you to the intimated result.

The reverse can also happen. Assuming that somebody wants to understand the spirit. If he looks for it, for example, in the outer material creation of the human body, he resembles someone who extinguishes the light to understand it. Since this is the secret of the matter that the outer sensory nature disproves and extinguishes the spirit. It copies the spirit, just as the illuminated objects reflect the light. However, we can nowhere find any material processes if we do not grasp the spirit in living activity one day. Since this is just the nature of material processes that the spirit has changed into them. If we try to recognise the spirit from them, then we misunderstand ourselves.

I wanted to send this introduction ahead, so that you can get more and more clearness of what is, actually, the cognitive attitude of the spiritual researcher, and that the spiritual researcher needs a certain width and mobility of imagination to penetrate into the things. Then with such concepts, it is possible to light up the important questions which I have also touched last time, and which I indicate only briefly.

I have said that one assigns the mental-spiritual to the brain and nervous system only, and one considers the rest of the organism more or less if one speaks of the mental-spiritual only as an appendage of the brain and nervous system. I have tried to demonstrate the results of spiritual research in this field, while I have pointed out that you only get to a true view about the relation of human soul and human body if you relate the whole human soul to the whole physical body. Then, however, it appears that it probably has a deeper background to divide the whole of the human soul into the imagining life, the emotional life, and the will life. Since only the real imagining life is bound to the nervous organism in such a way as the physiological psychology assumes. Against it the emotional life not as far as it is imagined, but as far as it originates relates to respiration as the imagining life relates to the nervous system. So that we have to assign the emotional life to the respiratory organism. The will life is in the same relation to metabolism, of course, to its subtlest ramifications. While one regards that in the organism the single systems intertwine there is also metabolism in the nerves, the things thereby penetrate each other at these extreme ends.

However, one can understand it only if one considers the things in such a way if one knows that the will impulses are to be assigned to the metabolic processes, as the experiences of imagination to the processes in the human nervous system or in the brain. Of course, such things can be only indicated at first. Because they can be indicated only, objections about objections are possible. However, I know it for sure: if one approaches the just explained with the whole extent of the anatomical-physiological research, then the spiritual-scientific assertions done by me will comply with the scientific assertions. Of course, on the surface objections about objections can arise against such an enclosing truth. Somebody may say, we want to agree at first that certain feelings are connected with the respiratory organism; since nobody can actually doubt that this can be shown for certain feelings very obviously. However, someone may say, yes, how do you react to the fact that we perceive, for example, melodies, which appear in our consciousness; the feeling of aesthetic pleasure is connected with melodies. Can one speak there of any relation of the respiratory organism with that which is connected so apparently after physiological results with the nervous organism? As soon as one looks at the thing properly, the right thing of my assertion also turns out with complete clearness. Since then one has to consider that with any exhalation an important process goes in the brain in parallel: the fact that the brain would rise with exhaling if the cranial cover did not hold it down respiration continues in the brain and vice versa: with inhalation, the brain sinks. Because it cannot rise and sink because the cranial cover is there, the blood current changes, that takes place which physiology knows as cerebral respiration, that is certain processes go forward in the nervous surroundings in parallel to the respiratory process. In this encounter of the respiratory process with that which lives as tones in us that happens which just points to the fact that the feeling is also associated with the respiratory organism in this area, as the mere imagination is connected with the nervous organism.

I want to indicate this because it is something especially abstruse and delivers, therefore, an objection that directly suggests itself. If one were able to come to an understanding with anybody about all details of the physiological results, no detail would contradict that which I have brought forward last time and today again.

Now it should be my task to develop our consideration further. There I have to dwell on how the human being unfolds the sense perception to show which, actually, the relation is between the perception that leads to mental pictures, and the feeling and willing, generally to the life of the human being as soul, body, and mind.

With our sensory life, we get into contact with our surroundings. Within these sensory surroundings, natural sciences distinguish certain materials, we better say material forms or aggregate states: solid, liquid, and gaseous. However, science assumes something else except these material forms, as you probably know.

If natural sciences want to explain the light, it is not content with these material forms, but they reach for that which appears subtler to them than these material states. They reach for the ether. The mental picture of the ether is exceptionally difficult, and one may say, the different thoughts that one has about it are manifold. Of course, I cannot go into all details. I would like to draw your attention only to that which just natural sciences feel pressured into putting up the ether concept, that means to imagine the world filled not only with the direct sense perception of the denser materials, but with ether. However, natural sciences do not get to that with their methods what, actually, ether is. Since they always still need material bases for their real activity. However, the ether itself always escapes from the material bases as it were. It appears in connection with material processes, it causes material processes; but one cannot understand them, so to speak, with the means that are bound to the material bases. Hence, a peculiar ether concept that is very interesting has developed just in our time. Modern physics tends to say, the ether must be that which has, in any case, no qualities of the usual matter. Thus, natural sciences point beyond their own material bases, while they say about the ether, it has what they cannot find with their means. Natural sciences just get to the assumption of the ether, but are unable to fill this mental picture of the ether with any contents with their means.

Natural sciences take the material bases as starting point; spiritual research takes the mental-spiritual basis as starting point. Now the spiritual researcher as the naturalist gets also to the ether concept if he does not stop arbitrarily at a certain border, only from the other side. The spiritual researcher tries to take up that in his knowledge, which is active and effective in the soul. If he stopped now at that which he can experience in the usual soul life, then he would not even advance as far as the naturalist advances who assumes the ether concept. Since the naturalist puts up the ether concept at least. The psychologist if he gets to no ether concept resembles a naturalist who says there, why should I care about that which still lives there? I accept the three basic forms: solid, liquid, gaseous; I do not care about that, which should be even thinner. Indeed, psychology proceeds mostly this way.

However, not everybody who was active in psychology does it in such a way. One finds attempts in particular within that exceptionally significant scientific period of German idealism in the first third of the nineteenth century by which ether concepts from the spiritual-mental side come up as natural sciences get to the ether from the material side. One has to approach the ether concept from two sides. One will not manage with this concept different. Now, the interesting fact is that the great philosophical idealists, like Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, still ignored the ether concept in spite of their powerful imagination and thinking. They could not invigorate the soul life as it were, so that the ether concept would have arisen to them.

For it, this ether concept arose from this psychology in those who were fertilised by this idealism, although they were not as great genii as the idealists were. We find this ether concept with Immanuel Hermann Fichte (1796-1879) at first who is the son and a disciple of the great Johann Gottlieb Fichte. He said to himself, if one considers the mental-spiritual life, one recognises that this mental-spiritual life runs out downward in the ether, as well as the solid, liquid, and gaseous states run out upwards in the ether. The lowest part of the soul has to discharge into the ether as the highest of the material states discharges into the ether upwards. Certain mental pictures are typical which he formed about that and by which he got now really from the spiritual-mental to the border of the ether. We read the place in his Anthropology (1860) which I have also quoted in my last book The Riddle of Man:

“One cannot find ... that really persevering in the material elements, that uniting formative principle of the body which turns out to be effective during our whole life.” “So we are made aware of the second, substantially different cause in the body.” “While containing the tenacious of metabolism it is the true, inner, and invisible body which is present in all visible materiality. The other outer appearance of it, developed from the incessant metabolism, may be called 'body' from now on which is not pertinacious and one, which is the bare effect or the after-image of that inner corporeality which throws it into the varying material world as well as the magnetic force prepares an apparently dense body from iron filings for itself which disintegrates, however, in all directions if the binding force is taken away from it.”

Now, as to Fichte an invisible body lives in the usual body, which is composed of the outer material. We may call this invisible body the etheric body that forms and develops the single material particles of this visible body. Fichte is so clear in his mind that this etheric body to which he descends from the soul is not subjected to the processes of the physical body that for him the insight into the existence of such an etheric body is already enough to get beyond the riddle of death. Since Fichte says in his Anthropology:

“For one has still to ask how the human being behaves in this death process. He remains after the last, visible act of the life process in his being completely the same after mind and organisational power that he was before. His integrity is preserved; since he has lost absolutely nothing of that which was and belonged to his substance during the visible life. He returns to the invisible world only at death, or rather, because he had never left it, because it is the actually persevering in all visible, — he has only removed a form of visibility. 'Death' signifies only to be no longer discernible to the usual sensory view, as well as the actually real, the last reasons of the bodily phenomena are imperceptible to the senses.”

I have shown that Fichte advances to such an invisible body from the soul. It is interesting that at many places in the wake of the German idealism the same appeared. I have drawn the attention here already before longer time to a lonesome thinker who was a headmaster in Bromberg (then: Prussia, now: Bydgoszcz, Poland) who dealt with the question of immortality: Johann Heinrich Deinhardt (1805-1867). At first, he dealt with the question of immortality like others, while he tried to get to this question with ideas and concepts. However, more arose to him than to those who live only in concepts. Thus, the publisher of that treatise about immortality could quote a place from a letter written by Deinhardt where he says that he did not yet get around to informing the matter in a book, but that it would have arisen as a result of his research that the human being works on the configuration of an invisible body which is released to the spiritual world at death.

Thus, I could state manifold phenomena of the German spiritual life for such a direction of research and view. They all would prove that this direction did not want to stay at only philosophising speculation, but to strengthen the soul life so that it gets to that density which reaches the ether.

However, one will not solve the riddle of the ether on the paths that these researchers have chosen, but one can say that these researchers were heading to spiritual science. Since this riddle of the ether is solved, while the human soul goes through those inner processes which I have described more exactly in my book How Does One Attain Knowledge of Higher Worlds?. Then, however, the human being can gradually reach the ether really from the inside. Then the ether will be immediate to him. Then only he can understand what sensory perception is, what is, actually, in the sensory perception.

To show this today, I have to look for the access to this question as it were from another side. Let us examine what takes place in the metabolic processes, actually. We can imagine the metabolic processes in such a way that they deal with the liquid element. You will easily understand this if you familiarise yourself only somewhat with the most popular scientific mental pictures in this area. The metabolic process lives as it were in the liquid element. Respiration lives in the aerial element; in the respiration the inner and outer aerial processes interact as material processes interact which happen except our body, and such which happen in our body in the metabolic processes. What goes forward if we perceive sensorily and affiliate the imagination? What corresponds to it, actually? Etheric processes correspond to percipience. As well as we live with the metabolism in the liquid, we live with respiration in the air; we live with perception in the ether. Inner etheric processes that happen in the invisible body and outer etheric processes meet each other in the sensory perception. If it is argued, yes, but certain sensory perceptions are obviously metabolic processes like smell and taste, a more precise examination would show that, besides, that which is material belongs to the metabolism itself, and that with every such process, also while tasting, for example, an etheric process goes forward by which we come into contact with the outer ether. Without the understanding of the etheric world, an understanding of the sensory perceptions is impossible.

What happens then, actually? You can figure this out if you have brought the inner soul process so far that the internally etheric-bodily has become reality. This becomes Imagination. If the mental pictures have become so lively that they are Imaginations, then they live immediately in the etheric, while they live only in the psychic if they are abstract. They spread to the etheric. Then you can get to know what happens in the sensory perception. The sensory perception consists in the fact that, while the outer surroundings send the etheric from the material into our senses, into those gulfs of which I spoke the day before yesterday, that what is outdoors becomes also internal within our sensory area. Then the outer etheric is deadened because the outer ether penetrates into our senses. While the outer ether is killed in our senses, it is revived, while the inner ether of the etheric body counteracts it. This is the nature of sense perception.

This is an exceptionally important fact that arises to spiritual science. Since that which no philosophical speculation finds and on which it foundered countless times can be found only spiritual-scientifically. Sensory perception can be recognised as a subtle interaction between outer and inner ether, as a revival of the ether killed in the senses by the inner etheric body.

This is exceptionally important, because it shows that the human being already if he gives himself away to the sensory perception not only lives in the physical organism, but in the etheric-psychic that the whole sensory life is a life in the etheric-invisible. The deeper researchers always suspected this in the characterised time but it becomes certainty by spiritual science. Among those who recognised this significant truth, I want still to mention the almost forgotten Ignaz Paul Vital Troxler (1780-1866, Swiss physician, politician, and philosopher). I have already mentioned him in talks here. He said in his Lectures on Philosophy (1835):

“The philosophers have distinguished a subtle soul body from the coarser body ... a soul which has a picture of the body in itself which they called pattern, and which was the inner higher human being to them... In recent time even Kant dreams of a whole inside mental human being who carries all limbs of the outer body in his spiritual body in The Dreams of a Visionary (1766) seriously and in sport; Lavater writes and thinks likewise. ...”

However, these researchers also were clear in their mind that if one ascends from the usual material view to the view of this supersensible organism in us one has to go over from the usual anthropology to such a knowledge that gets to its results by the increase of the inside. Hence, it is interesting that, for example, Fichte and Troxler were clear in their mind that anthropology has to ascend to something else if it wants to grasp the whole human being. Fichte says in his Anthropology:

“The sensory consciousness … with the whole, also human sensory life has no other significance than to be only the site in which that supersensible life of the spirit takes place, while it introduces the transcendent spiritual content of the ideas in the sensory world by free conscious action... This thorough recognition of the human being raises anthropology in its final result to anthroposophy.”

We see the notion of an anthroposophy resulting from this current of the German spiritual life that leads idealism from its abstractness to reality. Troxler says that one has to accept a super-spiritual sense in conjunction with a supersensible spirit, and that one can thereby grasp the human being in such a way that one deals no longer with a usual anthropology but with something higher:

“Even if it is extremely pleasant that the recent philosophy which must reveal itself ... in any anthroposophy ..., works its way up, one cannot ignore the fact that this idea cannot be a fruit of speculation, and the true ... individuality of the human being must not be confused neither with that which it puts up as a subjective mind or limited ego, nor with that which it contrasts as an absolute mind or absolute personality with this.”

With anthroposophy not something arbitrary is brought forward, but something that leads necessarily to that spiritual life, which gets once involved with the concepts and mental pictures which are not only concepts and mental pictures but which it condenses so far, that they lead into reality.

However, one does not manage it that is the lack of this research if you only ascend from the physical to the etheric body; but you get to a certain border which you have to cross, since beyond the etheric the mental-spiritual exists. The essentials are that just this mental-spiritual can come into relationship to the physical only by the mediation of the etheric. Thus, we have to search the actually mental of the human being only in that which works now completely super-etherically in the etheric, so that the etheric develops the physical as it is developed by the psychic.

Let us try to grasp the human being at the will pole: We have said that the will life is associated with metabolism. While the will impulse does not live only in the outer physical metabolism, the etheric also lives in that which develops as metabolism if a will impulse takes place.

Spiritual science shows now that in the will impulse just the opposite of the sensory perception is present. While by the sensory perception the outer ether is invigorated by the inner one, the will impulse arises from the mental-spiritual, then the etheric body is expelled always by the metabolism and everything that is associated with it, from the physical body in those areas in which metabolism takes place. We have the opposite: the etheric body withdraws as it were from the physical processes. The essentials of the will actions are that the etheric body withdraws from the physical body.

As you know, I distinguish except the Imaginative knowledge the Inspirative and then the real Intuitive knowledge. As well as the Imaginative knowledge is such an strengthening of the soul life that one gets to the etheric life in the described way, the Intuitive knowledge is given by the fact that one learns in the soul life as it were to take part by powerful will impulses, even to cause the withdrawal of the etheric body from the physical processes. Thus, in this area the mental-spiritual projects into the physical-bodily. If a will impulse penetrates originally from the mental-spiritual, it is found in the etheric, and the result is that this etheric is withdrawn from any metabolic area of the physical-bodily. From this work of the spiritual-mental through the etheric on the bodily, the transition originates of a will impulse to any bodily movement. Then however if you consider the whole human being this way, you get to your real immortal part. Since as soon as you learn to recognise that the spiritual-mental weaves in the ether, it becomes clear that this weaving of the spiritual-mental in the etheric is independent of those processes of the physical body that take place from birth or conception to death. On this way, the human being can really rise to the immortal, which combines with the body which one receives by heredity, and which survives when he dies. Since the everlasting-spiritual is connected with that which is born and dies via the etheric.

It has turned out up to now that the spiritual-scientific images resist the habitual ways of thinking very much. An obstacle is also that one tries so little to search the real connection of the spiritual-mental with the bodily. Most people long for something quite different from that which spiritual research can give, actually. What takes place in the imagining human being? An etheric process that interacts only with an outer etheric process. However, it is necessary, so that the human being keeps well and fit emotionally and bodily that he notes the border where the inner ether and the outer one touch each other. This happens mostly unconsciously. It becomes conscious if the human being ascends to the Imaginative knowledge. In this interaction between the inner ether and the outer one, we have the extreme border of the effectiveness of the ether on the human organism generally. Since that which is in our etheric body works on the organism, especially in the growth. There it is still effective developing in the organism from the inside out. It organises our organism gradually, so that it adapts itself to the outside world.

However, this grasping of the physical body by the ether has to get to a certain border. If it exceeds this border by some abnormal processes, it happens that that which lives in the ether encroaches on the physical organism, so that this receives as it were that which should remain an ether movement. What happens then? That which one should experience, actually, only internally as a mental picture appears as a process in the physical body. Then it is hallucination. Many people who want to penetrate into the spiritual world wish hallucinations actually above all. Of course, the spiritual researcher cannot offer this; since a hallucination is nothing but a reproduction of a purely material process, which happens compared with the soul beyond the borders of the body, that means in the body. Against it if one wants to penetrate into the spiritual world, one goes back from this border to the mental and gets to Imagination instead of hallucination. Imagination is a purely psychic experience, the soul lives with Imagination in the spiritual world. However, thereby the soul penetrates Imagination completely consciously. It is important to realise that Imagination is the eligible way to spiritual knowledge and that hallucination is the opposite of it. Both destroy themselves mutually. Someone who gets by a morbid organism to hallucination obstructs the way to the real Imagination for himself; and someone who gets to the real Imagination saves himself from hallucination most certainly. Hallucination and Imagination are mutually exclusive.

The same applies to the other pole of the human being. Just as the etheric body can encroach on the bodily and penetrate the bodily with its formative power, and thereby can cause the hallucination, that is the purely bodily processes, on the other side, the etheric can emerge irregularly with the will action with certain abnormal formations or states of the organism. Then it may happen that it remains inside, instead of that in a right will action the etheric is really taken from the physical metabolism. Then the realm of physical metabolism reaches into the etheric, so that the etheric becomes dependent on the physical, while with the normal development of the will the physical is dependent on the etheric which is determined again by the mental-spiritual. If this happens, the compulsive act originates as the morbid counter-image of hallucination where the physical body with its metabolic processes squeezes in the etheric. Hence, there is nothing more soulless than on one side hallucinating and on the other side, for example, the dancing Dervishes. The Dervishes whirl originates from the fact that the physical-bodily itself shoves in the etheric, so that the etheric is not effective from the spiritual-mental, but strictly speaking, only regular compulsive acts appear. Someone who believes that the dancing Dervish reveals something mental should just get involved with spiritual science to recognise that the dancing Dervish is a proof of the fact that the spiritual-mental has left his body; that is why, he dances this way.

I would like to say that only somewhat more extensive than this dancing is, for example, the automatic, mediumistic writing. This is also nothing but that one expels the spiritual-mental completely from the human first and lets the physical body develop which is shoved in the etheric body as it develops if it no longer contains the inner ether, but is now controlled by the outer surrounding ether. All these areas just lead away from spiritual science. Just with the dancing Dervish, you can study what an artistic dance should be. The artistic dance should just consist of the fact that a will impulse of which the person concerned can also be aware corresponds to any single movement, so that the physical processes force their way into the etheric processes. Art dance is a dance that is penetrated with mental pictures. Some people will argue: but the Dervishes whirl also indicates the spirit! — Yes, it does it, but how? The Dervishes whirl and automatic writing (channelling) are only dead replications of the spiritual. That is why this resembles the spiritual as the shell resembles the mussel, and can be confused with it so easily. Only if you penetrate really into the spiritual, you can understand these matters correctly.

If we take the bodily as starting point and get to the imagination via the sensory perception which then spreads to the mental-spiritual, we get around recognising that spiritual-scientifically which is excited by the sensory perceptions, settles at a certain point as it were and becomes memory. Memory originates from the fact that the sensory impression continues towards the body, so that not only in the sensory impressions the etheric can work from the inside, but in that which the sensory impression has left behind in the body the etheric is now active. Then that which has gone into memory is again brought up.

It is not possible of course to go into details in this short time. However, one will never really understand what is mental picture and memory, and how they relate to the spiritual-mental if one does not advance in the spiritual-scientific sense.

On the other pole is the whole current that flows there from the spiritual-mental of the will impulses down to the physical-bodily by which the actions are caused. In the usual human life the matter is in such a way that the sensory life gets until memory, stops at the memory. The memory places itself as it were before the spiritual-mental, so that this does not become aware of itself how it creates and works, while it has sensory perceptions. Only a confused indication originates there that the soul weaves and lives in the etheric if this soul living in the etheric is not yet strengthened in this etheric weaving, so that it breaks on the border of the physical.

If the mental-spiritual interweaves the etheric body so that that which it imprints in the etheric body does not break on the physical body, but keeps in the etheric in such a way that it gets to the borders of the physical body, but is still noted in the etheric, then the dream originates. The dream life if it is really studied will become a proof of the lowest form of supersensible experience. Since in the dream the human being experiences that he cannot unfold his mental-spiritual in the will impulses within the visions. Because the will impulses are absent, and mind and soul intervene in the etheric so little in the dream that the soul becomes aware of these will impulses, the chaotic web of the dreams originates.

What on one side the dreams are, are on the other side those phenomena where the will which comes from the spiritual-mental intervenes by the etheric-bodily in the outer world, but just as little becomes aware of that which goes forward there, actually, as it can notice because of the weak work of the spiritual-mental that the human being lives and weaves there in the spiritual. As the dream shows the weakened sensory knowledge this way, the destiny shows the reinforced effect of the spiritual-mental, of the will impulses.

We do not see the connections in the destiny, as well as we do not see in the dream what weaves and lives there, actually, as the real. As in the dream always material processes form the basis, which surge into the ether, the spiritual-mental anchored in the will surges on the outer world. However, the spiritual-mental is not organised in the usual life so that the spirit can be beheld in its effectiveness in the succession of the experiences of destiny.

At the moment when we grasp this succession we learn to recognise the web of destiny, we learn to recognise that as in the usual life the soul covers the spiritual by mental pictures it covers the spiritual in the destiny by sympathy and antipathy with which it takes up the events of life. At the moment when one looks through sympathy and antipathy spiritual-scientifically where one grasps the course of the events of life objectively in calmness, one notices that all events of destiny are either the aftermath of a former life on earth or the preparation for a next life on earth. As well as on one side the outer natural sciences do not advance to the spiritual-mental, not even to the etheric if they search for the relations between the material world and imagination, they do not manage at the other pole with their efforts today. As on one side they stick to material processes in the nervous organism in the imagination, they stick to something unclear, nebulous between physical and mental on the other side.

These are just those areas where you have to notice how ideological concepts can either be proved or disproved. In recent times the analytic psychology appeared. It is, I would like to say, inspired with good notions. Since what does it want? This analytic psychology or psychoanalysis wants to descend from the usual soul life to that which is no longer included in the usual present soul life, but is rest of former soul experience.

The psychoanalyst supposes that the soul life does not exhaust itself in the conscious soul life, but that the consciousness submerges into the subconscious. The psychoanalyst regards many things that appear in the soul life as disturbances, as confusions, as this or that defective, as effects of the sub-consciousness. However, it is interesting how the psychoanalyst considers the unconscious. If one hears what he enumerates in this subconscious, the first is disappointed hope. The psychoanalyst finds any person who suffers from this or that depression. This depression does not need to have its origin in the present conscious soul life, but in the past. In this life, something appeared in the mental experience. The person has overcome it, but not completely; in the subconscious a rest has remained. He has experienced, for example, disappointments. He overcame these disappointments by education or by other processes, but in the subconscious, they live on. There they surge up to the border of consciousness. Then they cause the unclear mental depression. The psychoanalyst looks in all kinds of disappointments that have disappeared in the subconscious for that which determines the conscious life in a dark way. He searches this also in the temperaments. In that which colours the soul life from certain rational impulses the psychoanalyst searches something subconscious. Then, however, he gets to a wide area I report here only which the psychoanalysts comprehend in the following way: there the animalic basic mud of the soul appears in the conscious life. I do not deny at all that this basic mud exists.

I have already called attention in these talks to the fact that certain mystics have experiences because they refine something, for example, eroticism, which appears in the consciousness, so that one believes to have particularly sublime processes, while only eroticism, “the animal basic mud of the soul,” appears and is sometimes interpreted in the deeply mystic sense. You can still prove with such a poetic mystic like Mechthild of Magdeburg (1212-1285, nun) that the erotic feeling comes down to the details of the mental pictures. You have to recognise these things just clearly, so that you commit no mistakes in the spiritual-scientific area. Since someone who wants to penetrate into the spirit has to be particularly anxious to know all mistakes to avoid them. However, he who speaks about this animalic basic mud of the soul does not go deeply enough into the soul life. If one speaks about the basic mud of the soul, one should also speak about that which is embedded in it. Indeed, disappointed hopes are in this basic mud; but in it is also a power that changes the disappointed hopes into something else than a depression, that leads in the next life to mental fitness. In that which the psychoanalyst searches in the disappointed hopes of life in the subsoil of the soul is that which prepares itself in a present life to intervene in the destiny of the next life if he goes only deeply enough into it.

Thus, you find the spiritual-mental weaving of destiny everywhere, if you explore the animalic basic mud without soiling your hands with it, as it happens so often with the psychoanalysts, unfortunately. Just in the analytic psychology we have a field in which you can learn that everything is right and everything is wrong if it concerns questions of the worldview, namely from the one or the other side. However, the psychoanalyst can put many things forward for the one-sided assertions; hence, a disproof will not very much impress those who are committed to these concepts. However, if you get to know that which militates for or against them with that attitude which I have characterised at the beginning of this talk, you will experience just from the pros and cons in the soul what really works. Since between that what one can only observe in the soul as well as the psychologists do it who only aim at the consciousness, and what the psychoanalyst finds below in the animalic basic mud of the soul, is the area which belongs to the everlasting spiritual-mental, which goes through births and deaths.

The exploration of the whole inside of the human being also leads to a right relation to the outside world. Natural sciences have spoken about the ether not only in uncertain way, they almost led the biggest world riddles back to it: from etheric states that are said to have developed what then accepted solid forms, has become planets, suns and moons and so on. There one considers what happens mental-spiritually in the human being only as an episode. Before and behind is the dead ether. If one gets to know the ether only from one side, one can get to such a construction of the evolution about which the subtle Herman Grimm (1828-1901, art historian, writer) says the following. He had familiarised himself with this view that from the nebula of the dead world ether originated in which now life and mind develop, and had compared it with the worldview of Goethe, he says:

“The big Laplace-Kant phantasm of the origin and decline of the earth had gained ground, already in his (Goethe's) youth. From the rotating world nebula a gas ball forms from which afterward the earth develops, and experiences, as a solidifying ball, all phases in inconceivably long periods, included the episode of the human race, to rush back, finally, as a burnt-out slag into the sun: a long, but to the today's audience absolutely comprehensible process for whose realisation no further outer intervention was necessary than the effort of any outer force to keep the same heating temperature of the sun. One cannot imagine a more futile perspective for the future than that which science wants to foist on us today. A stinker round which a hungry dog is circling would be a refreshing, appetising piece in comparison to this last excrement of creation as which our earth would fall prey to the sun, in the end. It is the thirst for knowledge with which our generation accepts and believes similar, a sign of pathological imagination, for which the scholars of future periods have to apply much astuteness to explain it as a historical phenomenon.”

Spiritual science just shows what appears here again as a sensation born out of a healthy soul life in true light.

Since, if one learns to recognise, how the vitalisation of the dead ether happens by the mental, by the living ether, then one abandons the possibility by inner experience that from a dead ether our world edifice could have originated once. This world riddle assumes another form while you familiarise yourself with the suitable soul riddle. Now you recognise the ether in its living form, recognise that the dead ether has to originate from the living one at first. So that, while you go back to the start of the world, you have to come back to the soul and to regard the spiritual-mental as the origin of that which develops today. But while this spiritual-mental remains a mere hypothesis in relation to the outer world riddles, as long as one does not get to know the whole life and weaving of the etheric by spiritual science in the encounter of the living ether from the inside and the dead ether, the world nebula becomes something living, something spiritual-mental.

You realise that also for the world riddles a significant perspective arises just from the soul riddles. I have to stop at this perspective today. You realise that a real consideration of the outer and inner life from the spiritual-scientific viewpoint leads via the ether to the spiritual-mental in the soul and in the outer world. However, this viewpoint is confronted with an attitude of a man whom I have already mentioned last time. Today we can at least guess that from such bodily, as spiritual science thinks, immediately the bridge leads to the spiritual-mental in which the ethics, the morality is rooted which comes from the spirit as generally the sensory leads into the spiritual. However, while dealing with the outer material, science accepted an attitude that denies already that the ethics is anchored in a spiritual generally. One feels still embarrassed today to deny the ethics, but one says the following about the ethics what you can read, for example, at the end of the talk by Jacques Loeb whom I have mentioned last time. There he who completely denies ethics with scientific research says:

“If our existence is based on the play of blind forces and is only a work of chance, if we are only chemical mechanisms how can there any ethics be for us? One can only answer to it that our instincts are the root of our ethics, and that the instincts are hereditary. We eat, drink, and travel not because metaphysicians reach the insight that this is desirable, but because we are prompted like machines. We are active because we are forced like machines by the processes in our nervous systems, and if the human beings are not economic slaves, the instinct of successful work determines the direction of their activity. The mother loves her children and nurtures them, not because metaphysicians had the idea that this is nice, but because the instinct of maternal care, presumably determined by two sex chromosomes, is as firmly determined as the anatomy of the female body. We enjoy the contact with other human beings because we are forced by hereditary conditions. We fight for justice and truth, and are ready to make sacrifices for them because we want instinctively to see our fellow humans happy. The fact that we own ethics, we owe only to our instincts which are determined in the same way chemically and hereditarily in us like the form of our body.”

Moral action leads back to instincts. Instincts lead back to physical-chemical processes. However, this logic is very flimsy. Since, of course, one may say that one should not wait with the ethical action until the metaphysicians have worked out some principles, but this is the same, as if anybody possibly says, should one wait with digestion, until the metaphysicians or the physiologists have found the principles of digestion? Therefore, I would like to recommend to the Professor Loeb (Jacques L., 1858-1924, German-American physiologist) not to investigate the physiological principles of digestion, as he attacks the metaphysical principles of the ethical life brutally. However, today one can be a significant naturalist but the habitual ways of thinking tend as it were to cut off any spiritual life. At the same time, one will always be able to detect a defect in the thinking.

With that, one can have peculiar experiences. I have put forth such an experience here already before some time; but I would like to put forth it once again because it goes back to explanations of a very significant naturalist of the present (Svante Arrhenius, 1859-1927, Swedish scientist), who also belongs to those whom I attack, just because I appreciate them in their field very much. This naturalist has great merits in astrophysics and in certain other fields. However, when he wrote a comprising book (The Evolution of the Universe, 1908) about the worldview of the present and the origin of this world view, he said something strange in the preface. He shows delight as it were that we have come a long way because we are able now to interpret everything scientifically, and he points with a certain arrogance to the former times which were not able to do this, and refers to Goethe saying, one cannot recognise whether we live in the best time; but the fact that our scientific knowledge is the best of all times in comparison to former times, we can refer to Goethe who says:

Excuse me if I think it a great deal,
to put oneself into the spirit of past ages,
we see how wise men thought before our time,
and to what splendid heights we have attained at last. (Verses 570-573)

With a confession that he takes from Goethe's Faust a great naturalist of the present closes. He has only overlooked that Wagner is that who confesses this and that Faust says to this confession when Wagner has left again:

How can a person still have any hopes
who is addicted to what's superficial,
who grubs with greedy hand for treasures
and is happy to discover earthworms! (Verses 602-605)

The great naturalist has forgotten to reflect on that which Goethe says, actually, when he refers to Wagner to express that we have attained splendid heights. There one can trap, I would like to say, where his thinking pauses while pursuing reality.

One will not hold against me, because I appreciate this naturalist very much, that I want to assert Goethe's real attitude compared with such natural sciences that claim to be able to give information also about the spirit. Even if we can forgive some monists if they cannot get to the spirit from the weakness of their thinking: it is dangerous if the attitude which appears with Jacques Loeb and the naturalist who characterises himself as Wagner but believes to characterise himself as Goethe, more and more spreads by the belief in authority. Someone who penetrates into the spiritual-scientific attitude maybe gets from such quotation of that naturalist to the real Goethean attitude if he takes the words up with which I would like to close this talk:

It is a big terror
to put oneself into such souls,
how greedily they touch the matter
and rush past the spirit!




Last Modified: 15-Nov-2017
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